WorldCon Day 2 – The Socialising. . .kind of

Evening all!

Good news: The day 2 recap is a little more organised than Day 1.

Bad news: . . . I did a bunch less stuff because I was hanging out in the chats, doing the whole socialising thing.

But anyway, onto the day!

First of all was a slightly different experience – rehearsing the Hugos. I originally signed up as a volunteer because as it’s my first WorldCon, I figured it’s a good way to throw myself into the convention. Turns out, it still is, albeit among a more technical crowd. Its certainly been an eye opening experience to what goes on behind the scenes, and I’m keen to see the final result (while REALLY hoping I don’t screw anything up).

Three sessions I went to were readings; Joe Haldeman, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Becky Chambers, and intermingled with the panels and Retro Hugo ceremony. I’ve read the first two, but it was a bit of a new experience to listen to them read. For the Becky Chambers reading, it was my first introduction to her work, and it’s now pretty clear why she draws such a crowd. I won’t discuss these too much as these are pretty straight forward.

Regarding the Retro Hugos, this year for 1945, unfortunately I couldn’t really get the stream to work. But I’ve heard it was great, and get the opportunity to check out the video later. For the results, they are recorded here.

What I did get to was modern criticisms on Science Fiction, with Canberra’s own Cat Sparks. Locus Magazine was well represented on the panel, and gave some great advice on professional critique vs reviews.

I also went to the Democratisation of Access to Space course. I’ve just started putting together a non-fic article on the question of a modern Space Race, and there were some really good stats that came out of it. The G8+China owning 89% of new space organisations, and 88% of the world’s space budget. The analysis of democratic index applied to science fiction worlds of the future, from Start Trek, to the The Expanse, to Elysium, was fascinating.  The rest didn’t quite go the direction I was hoping for, but was interesting nonetheless, and I’m looking forward to reading the paper that goes alongside it.

What To Do Until Your Ship Comes In was fantastic, made in no small part better by the first six minutes threatening to turn into Proud Dad Hour by Sean McMullen talking about fellow panelist Catherine S McMullen. What I really liked about this though was the different avenues panelists took to their path – throwing themselves into the world in which they wanted to work, taking work that gave them the space to think, or just taking ones that gave them control over hours – meant there were many paths for people to follow. Importantly though, were the points that none were perfect. Sacrifices were made, and if you’re happy to make them, fine, but it can be damaging to ignore them. Oh, and don’t expect your ship will come in. Work for it, but don’t rely on it.

Next was yet another favourite – Asian Women of Horror: The Experience of Perpetual “Otherness” Through the Lens of Dark Fiction. This might not be one that would immediately seem to appeal to me, or even be targeted at my demographic, but anything that looks through the lens of dark fiction or discussed the Other is immediately on my list. And this had both. Not only that, but it featured Prema Arasu, who is fast becoming an academic I have the highest respect for. Her perspectives on the monstrous being expressed in specific ways, and the idea of negotiating otherness as one who is in a small diaspora were not only enlightening, but also play directly into my own studies. If these topics interest you as well, look for her PhD to be completed in a couple of years. Should be a good one.

Now, at this point a few things happened. First of all, I started making a curry only to discover the past is meant to sit overnight. Then I discovered I that I had forgotten to eat all day, but my amazing wife who always takes care of me had already ordered me dinner. Then we had another delivery – a vacuum chamber and pump that I can use to make better dice! Yay!

Something else happened here as well though that was much more con-like, and I really appreciated more than I thought I would. I went to the virtual bar, and started chatting, only to find some great conversation among fans and writers alike.

I’ve really enjoyed the virtual concept so far, but I miss meeting new people. I didn’t think it would be possible to wander into a Discord and start talking to strangers, but it was fun, meaningless conversation that really gave the feel of an in-person con. It also lead me to the next two events – a book launch of Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy Volume 2 and another for Sally McLellan’s Somewhere Else.

In all, it was a smaller, slower day. But the result of that was that it was far less hectic, led to some great socialisation, and now I have s batch of curry paste, just waiting to be thrown over something tomorrow.

~Nathan

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